Liver transplantation for HCV cirrhosis: Improved survival in recent years and increased severity of recurrent disease in female recipients: Results of a long term retrospective study



In recent years, a worsening outcome of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive recipients and a faster progression of recurrent disease to overt cirrhosis has been reported. Our aims were to 1) assess patient survival and development of severe recurrent disease (Ishak fibrosis score > 3) in different transplant years; and 2) model the effects of pre- and post-liver transplantation (LT) variables on the severity of recurrent disease. A multicenter retrospective analysis was conducted on 502 consecutive HCV-positive transplant recipients between January 1990 and December 2002. Protocol liver biopsies were obtained at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 yr post-LT in almost 90% of the patients. All 502 patients were included in the overall survival analysis, while only the 354 patients with a follow-up longer than 1 yr were considered for the analysis of predictors of disease progression. The overall Kaplan–Meier survival rates were 78.7%, 66.3%, and 58.6%, at 12, 60, and 120 months, respectively, and a trend for a better patient survival over the years emerged from all 3 centers. The cumulative probability of developing HCV-related recurrent severe fibrosis (Ishak score 4-6) in the cohort of 354 patients who survived at least 1 yr remained unchanged over the years. Multivariate analysis indicated that older donors (P = 0.0001) and female gender of recipient (P = 0.02) were the 2 major risk factors for the development of severe recurrent disease, while the adoption of antilymphocytic preparations was associated with a less aggressive course (P = 0.03). Two of these prognostic factors, donor age and recipient gender, are easily available before LT and their combination showed an important synergy, such that a female recipient not only had a much higher probability of severe recurrent disease than a male recipient but her risk increased with the increasing age of the donor, reaching almost 100% when the age of the donor was 60 or older. In conclusion, a trend for a better patient survival was observed in more recent years but the cumulative probability of developing severe recurrent disease remained unchanged. The combination of a female recipient receiving an older graft emerged as a strong risk factor for a severe recurrence. Liver Transpl, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.